Literary Stylistics:
Lecture Notes no. 20

Speech and Thought Presentation 2: Further Considerations

Page Index:
1) Paragraphing
2) Given information
3) Tense
4) Mood
5) Modal auxiliaries
6) Adverbials
7) Speech and mental verbs
8) Clause relationships
9) Clause positioning
10) Clause position and free indirect discourse
11) The missing reporter clause
12) Speech and thought presentation in simple sentences
13) Orthographic indicators

(N.B.: Version of these notes with the systemic connection sections. Original version of these notes)

1) Paragraphing

Paragraphing is important in determining the speaker in DS or FDS, as each speaker is normally given an individual paragraph. To a certain extent also, paragraphing may help us to determine the thinker in thought presentation, especially when we are certain that there are instances of FDT or FIT in the text but are not sure who the thinker is. In this case, the speaker or thinker indicated in the first sentence of the paragraph in which the FDT or FIT occurs, is the likely thinker or experiencer of the FDT or FIT.

2) Given information

Given information in general may be important. We have encountered this notion in section 1) above: an indication of who says or who thinks found in an earlier sentence or clause need not be repeated in the sentences or clauses which are immediately subsequent to the earlier one, as it is assumed by the reader or analyst that the sayer or thinker remains the same. This consideration is especially crucial in locating the agency of speech and thought in the 'free' versions of discourse.

3) Tense

Tense is important in telling us about the time that the agent says or thinks, relative to the present of the narrative: i.e. past, present or future to the scene being described, or, past or present to the narrator's act of narration. If the present (or future) tense is used in the language of the narrator which primarily uses the past tense, this is usually a good indicator that the (free) direct speech of a character has intruded into the narrator's language.

4) Mood

It is expected that the third person narrator uses the declarative mood. If the imperative, interrogative or other non-declarative moods are used, one suspects (although this may not be invariably the case) that the speech or thought of a character or characters has intervened.

5) Modal auxiliaries

The modal auxiliaries may indicate that speech or thought could or should have happened, but has not actually happened: eg.
    1. He could have said that he was innocent.
    2. They should have thought that killing a man who might later be proved innocent was not the right thing to do.

6) Adverbials

Some adverbials may indicate that speech or thought has actually or possibly not occurred:
    3. They almost said that the man was not responsible for the murder when the police shot him.
        [speech has not occurred], or
    4. He possibly thought that he was the man.
        [he might or might not have thought].
It must be stated here however, that adverbials sometimes do indicate that speech and thought have occurred; indeed, they may indicate the certainty of their occurrence: eg.
    5. He definitely thought that he was the man.

7) Speech and mental verbs

You may have noticed that a verb that denotes speech or thought may serve the function of linking the clause which contains the verb to another clause. Thus the clause containing the verb indicates the person who speaks or thinks, while the clause that is initiated by the verb indicates the content of the speech or thought. These mental and speech verbs are crucial to direct and indirect speech and thought. Without them, direct and indirect speech and thought are not possible.
    Direct speech:
    6. He said, "I am going to the market."
    Indirect speech:
    7. He said that he was going to the market.
    Direct thought:
    8. He thought, "I am going to the market."
    Indirect thought:
    9. He thought that he was going to the market.

8) Clause relationships

As mentioned above, some mental and speech verbs may have a relationship with other clauses, and that the clause that includes the person who says or thinks initiates the clause that indicates the content of the speech or thought. Thus technically, the clause that indicates the speaker or thinker is the primary clause, whereas the clause that indicates the content is the secondary clause. This relationship may manifest itself as a relationship between main and subordinate clauses, as is the case with indirect speech and thought:
    Indirect speech:
    10. He declared that the race was lost.
            Main clause  | Subordinate clause
    Indirect thought:
    11. He surmised that the race was lost.
             Main clause | Subordinate clause
However, this relationship is not that of main and subordinate clauses when it comes to direct speech and thought, but more a coordinate correlation, although the terms primary clause and secondary clause may still be used:
    Direct speech:
    12. He declared, "the race was lost."
           Primary clause | Secondary clause
    Direct thought:
    13. He surmised, "the race was lost."
           Primary clause | Secondary clause
Informally, you may want to think of the relationship between the primary and secondary clauses in terms of the speaker or thinker clause on the one hand, and the content clause on the other. The speaker or thinker clause can also be called the reporter clause and the content clause, the report clause.

9) Clause positioning

In direct speech and thought, the positions of the reporter clause and the report clause are flexible. The report clause need not necessarily follow the reporter clause. Instead of the clause arrangements presented in sentences 12 and 13 above, the following arrangements are also possible:
    14. "The race was lost," he declared.
    15. "The race was lost," he surmised.
However, the rearrangements in 14 and 15, if applied to indirect speech and thought, are either not grammatically acceptable, or result in a change of the speech or thought categories. The following arrangements, with the subordinate conjunction intact, are not grammatically acceptable, even after adding a comma before the reporter clause in each instance:
    16. That the race was lost, he declared.
    17. That the race was lost, he surmised.
In direct speech and thought, it is even possible for the reporter clause to be placed somewhere in the middle:
    18. '"I am going", he said, "to the market"'.
    19. '"I am going", he thought, "to the market"'.

10) Clause position and free indirect discourse

It may be argued that the subordinate conjunction in indirect speech and thought can be deleted, such as the conjunction 'that' in the following:
    20. He declared the race was lost.
    21. He surmised the race was lost.
If this is done, the following rearrangements look legitimate:
    22. The race was lost, he declared.
    23. The race was lost, he surmised.
However, the above have ceased to be straightforward examples of indirect speech and thought. Sentence 22 is an example of free indirect speech and sentence 23 is an example of free indirect thought.

11) The missing reporter clause & free direct discourse

There are instances where the speaker clause or the thinker clause is missing:
    24. "The race was lost."
The clue as to who is saying or thinking the above is usually available earlier in the text where the sentence is found. The reason why the reporter clause is not indicated is that it has been indicated in an earlier sentence, and is therefore understood, and unnecessary repetitiveness is avoided by deleting it. However, the above is not a true example of direct speech or direct thought, but an example of free direct speech or free direct thought. Whether it is an example of free direct speech or free direct thought depends on the clue or clues given earlier in the text: i.e., clues as to whether someone is saying it or thinking about it.

12) Speech and thought presentation in simple sentences?

One question that may bother some of you in practical analysis (although this may not be an apparent problem in theory), is whether indirect discourse is possible in a simple sentence. The answer of course, is that grammatically speaking, it is possible only in a complex sentence. For example, the following is not IT but NRTA
    25. John thought about the man.
The above is NRTA instead of IT not only because it is not clear what John's exact thought about the man was, but also because, grammatically speaking, 'about the man' is a phrase and not a clause. However, the 'about' preposition may also initiate a clause with a non-finite verb instead of a phrase, and this may create some problems for our analysis: for example,
    26. He said about going to the market.
We may note here that the reporting of what is exactly being said is rather imprecise, and hence the sentence appears to be more inclined towards NRSA rather than IS. We may also note that in the strict grammatical sense, indirect speech involves the conversion of the exact clause uttered by the speaker into its reported equivalent.
        However, it may be possible to have examples of direct speech where the projected clause is a minor clause, especially if the clause is incomplete due to ellipsis, as in
    27. He asked, "Why?"
The conversion of such a clause to its indirect equivalent involves the retrieval of the elliptical element(s) which will make the reported clause grammatically complete. For instance, the elliptical element in the DS clause complex just mentioned is
    28. ...he does not want to go.
If the phrase in 28 is the missing element in 27, then the IS equivalent of sentence 27 is,
    29. He asked him why he did not want to go.
Otherwise, we are dealing with NRSA rather than IS.

13) Orthographic indicators:

Orthographic indicators, as you may know, may be quite crucial in speech and thought presentation. The deletion of the quotation marks in DS for example, immediately converts what is supposed to be DS to FDS; sentence 30 below is no longer DS, but FDS:
    30. He said, I am going to the market.
On the surface, the above may appear to display a problem of tense usage, and is usually avoided in more orthodox English usage. However, constructions like the above do occur in speech and thought presentation in literary works.

* The conversion to an indirect construction for polar interrogatives, WH interrogatives, exclamatives, and imperatives may clearly involve subordinate conjunctions other than 'that': eg. 'whether' or 'if' for polar interrogatives, a wh- element for WH-interrogatives (or for WH-interrogatives with the pragmatic force of a command, the conversion to a non-finite dependent clause), the use of 'that' or the appropriate WH-element for exclamatives, and the conversion to a non-finite dependent clause usually initiated by 'to' for imperatives. In addition to grammatical mood, pragmatic force (a term which I mentioned in parentheses above, and which you may encounter again later this term), may also play a part in the use of the appropriate subordinate conjunction, or the conversion of the reported clause to a non-finite instead of a finite construction. In relation to the use of the 'to'-infinitive clause for the reported clause in indirect discourse, you may also find Halliday's distinction between propositions (consequential use of finite 'that'-clauses in indirect discourse) and proposals (consequential use of non-finite 'to'-clauses in indirect discourse) to be useful (see table 7(11)) in Halliday's Introduction). Back to earlier position in the text


Texts to Analyse

Extract from Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls
Extract from Woolf's Mrs Dalloway

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Last revised: 08 June 2009
© Ismail S. Talib 1996-2009.